New rules increase protections for Minnesota waterways

Ellen Schmidt

The Obama administration closed a loophole in the Clean Water Act today, which restored federal protections to 51% of Minnesota’s streams. The bill aims to keep the nation’s drinking water supply clean.


The new rule will require business and landowners to obtain a permit if they pollute or destroy waters that receive federal protection, said the Star Tribune.


Some of the streams now protected feed into Minnesota lakes, and other large bodies of water such as the Mississippi River. The newly added  Clean Water Rule adds safeguards to streams, wetlands, and tributaries, that help keep these integral water sources safe.


The loophole was created by Supreme Court decisions in the 2001 and 2006. In a press release, Environment Minnesota, an environmental advocacy group and subsidiary of Environment America, said the loophole allowed “polluters and developers to dump into (bodies of water) or destroy them in many cases without a permit.”


At the University of Minnesota, the Watershed Education Program works to educate communities about making informed water and land use decisions to keep Minnesota’s water clean.


Now, the rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help designate which waterways are protected by the federal law.


“The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Water Rule protects our way of life by helping to ensure Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and drinking water supplies are clean and preserved for the future,” Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison said in a statement today.


More than 978,000 Minnesotans and one in three Americans use the drinking water that the rule protects by stopping pollution and development.